Educating and Engaging Young People

Pregnancy and childbirth can have a devastating impact on a young girl’s health. New initiatives are encouraging young people to wait until they are age 18 before marrying and giving birth, to allow two years between pregnancies, and to utilize reproductive health services.

The government of Burkina Faso and Pathfinder International have introduced youth-friendly services in health facilities in Diapaga and Ouga, and initiated a peer education program to support the use of these services complemented by ongoing involvement of religious leaders. This effort is part of a West Africa initiative launched by Pathfinderto work with local partners to build their capacity to implement an evidence-based, scalable program to serve young married women and their partners.

In Sierra Leone, a youth-led organization called YES Salone is leading a multisector program that includes five government ministries, UNFPA and other UN agencies, and NGOs. The acronym YES stands for “Young, Empowered and Safe.” The program will scale up demand for family planning and health services for young people. Activities this year included the development of minimum standards for services; a mobile minibus outreach effort, including music, drama, debate, and discussion; and a peer-to-peer education program in 13 districts.

The It Takes Two campaign was founded by the Global Poverty Project and Women Deliver with the goal of promoting gender equality, especially in health and education. Using an online platform and mobile application, it makes advocacy both fun and relevant to young people’s social lives by tracking activities and awarding points that translate into entertainment events. It Takes Two demonstrates that the nexus of digital entertainment, grassroots organizing, and social media opens up tremendous opportunities for young people to gain vital information and participate in civil society.

Currently in its first phase of implementation, the campaign is aimed at youth living in urban centers in five African countries, starting with Uganda, but has already generated 60,000 actions from people in 27 countries. To engage young people and raiseawareness, campaign activities include customizing condom wrappers online and voicing support for family planning programs.